Gig Review: D:Percussion Festival, Manchester, August 5, 2006

Polytechnic at D:PercussionAnother gig, another late review. We really need to make a point of reviewing one “festival” before heading off to a second but oh well. D:Percussion. It nearly didn’t happen, apparently, but the press that resulted from this near-failure seemed to have brought everyone in Manchester out on a gloomy day to stand about in Castlefield and watch bands. There were more stages this year than in the past, and more bands that looked interesting too. But, as a result of The Ledge (and, literally, everyone else I know) being out of town, I didn’t end up heading over until 4:30pm as I didn’t fancy 10 hours of solitude. I managed to get myself to the main stage in time for Polytechnic. For the second time in a week they put on a blinder, charming the crowd with their excitable blend of ecclectic, keyboard tinged American-sounding indie guitar melodies.

Having never actually heard him play before, I decided to watch Liam Frost & the Slowdown Family as I’d heard nothing but good about him. I was expecting some nice acoustic singer-songwriter tunes. What I got was a full band playing lovely, sweet catchy melodies and a troubadour of a singer. He was immediately infectious and I really enjoyed his set – enough that we made a point of watching him at Summer Sundae as well. I’m sorry I didn’t get down to the Night & Day when he played his residency last spring as it may have been the last chance to see him in such intimate surroundings if Saturday’s performance was anything to go by.

The Pipettes at D:PercussionNext up were The Pipettes who I had yet to hear, despite their having captured the hearts of indie boys across the nation. I was expecting a 60’s style super-cool vocal group. What I got was 3 women who looked more like girls in matching Topshop polka-dot dresses doing bad choreography. I can’t even comment on their talents because I couldn’t hear the vocals, which I thought was odd seeing as how the sound was perfect for every other band I saw. It was only them. I know sometimes this happens when a singer does not trust their ability to sing live, they drown the vocals out deliberately. I suspect this is the case with the Pipettes, who frankly, from the backing melodies, sounded pretty much like any other girl group on the block, were hardly that charismatic and really seemed only to be separated from the likes of Girls Aloud and Sugababes by their attempt at retro style.

The Longcut at D:PercussionThe Ledge finally joined me about the time that The Young Knives took the stage, all skinny ties and energy, playing their angular guitar pop with a great deal of emphatic desperation, like they were worried it was going out of fashion. At times they sound like The Futureheads and at others like Clor, but they write solid songs, have a lot of charisma on stage and are genuinely interesting and likeable. Sadly, though, unlike the last time, there was no break dancing. But we enjoyed them nonetheless and are looking forward to the release of their album later this month.

Castlefield Arena during D:PercussionFinally, we watched The Longcut who The Ledge insists we saw at D:Percussion back in 2004, but who I appear to have gotten confused with the unbelievably boring Longview and who I did not remember at all. I should have remembered them because they were great. They played a blend of indie dance which reminded me a little of The Beta Band and a little of Primal Scream but had none of the oddness of the former and not quite as much stage presense as the latter but which was very satisfying as the sun came out and went down on a Saturday evening. The crowd loved it and they threw a lot of enthusiasm into their songs. I think I should remember them now, and I wouldn’t mind hearing them on record because I very much liked what I heard.

After The Longcut finished, we decided to call it an evening and headed down to The Ox for a nightcap. This year’s D:percussion appeared to be a blinding success, and I probably should have got myself down there earlier to see Snowfight in the City Centre amongst a few others. But hopefully, with the £2 entry fee clearly making up for the cash shortfall this year, and with the massive turnout, next year’s festival will be back again bigger and better.

For more D:Percussion Photos follow the link to Flickr.

3 Responses to “Gig Review: D:Percussion Festival, Manchester, August 5, 2006”

  • Paul Says:

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t at D:Percussion, but I read your comments about The Longcut with interest. I’ve seen The Longcut several times (including a blinding set at Glastonbury last year) and they’ve always been nothing short of brilliant. I’m not exactly sure if they’re ever going to ‘break through’ due to any number of different reasons, but they’re certainly good to listen to, good to dance to and good to sing along to – who could ask for anything more?

    Just on another note – I was at the Night & Day last night for aussie band The Howling Bells gig which was superb. The singer has an amazing presence and the crowd appeared to love them. Their album is produced by Ken Nelson, who produced all 3 Coldplay albums amongst other things. They’ve got some belting songs including ‘Wishing Stone’ and ‘Setting Sun’, which the crowd lapped up. I took my wife along who, after insisting that she wasn’t that bothered about going, complained that there was no encore. Because she had enjoyed it so much, she didn’t want them to finish. Me neither. I don’t think that they’ll be playing venues this size for much longer.

  • Justhipper Says:

    We saw the Howling Bells at Summer Sundae over the weekend (review will be up shortly) and I really enjoyed them. I didn’t expect to because of the Coldplague link, but I thought the singer had hints of PJ Harvey in her vocals and I’m very interested in hearing their album now. Pity we didn’t know they were on at the N&D, although I don’t think we were in a fit state to go to a gig last night anyway.

  • James Says:

    Ooh, a bit harsh on The Pipettes there! I’ve seen them three times now (including their set at Dpercussion) and they’ve always been excellent. They do have a bit of an undeserved rep for sounding bad live, but I’ve never thought that their voices are bad at all. I was right down the front at Dpercussion and it sounded pretty good to me.

    Other than that, cracking review as always, even though it looks like you just stayed by the main stage all day. I skipped The Longcut in favour of Fujiya & Miyagi (who were ace), but yeah, those boys always give good show. Stuart running between the drums and the mic never gets old. Agree with you on Liam Frost, too. I’m becoming a bit of a Slowdown Family whore lately, even to the point that Sadie, the keyboardist gave me a wave at Dpercussion. They’re going to be big and well-deserved too.

    Anyway, this comment is turning into a bit of a ramble so, y’know, keep up the good work.

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